“People always fail (sin) in private long before they fail in public” -Anonymous
Sometimes I find myself wondering about private sins. We all have them. They are the things that we do, or think, that only exist within the confines of our private and socially secluded lives. The unattributed quote above speaks volumes on the potential effect of sinning, volitionally, in private while believing that it won’t get out. This is a dangerous thing that we see time and time again with leaders, pastors, and CEO’s. We see the final, and extraordinarily public, manifestation of the open sins that had taken root, potentially, many years ago. Why does this happen? I have a few thoughts on this, and my examples will be from the point of view of pornography addictions.
The first reason, it seems, that private sins end in such a public display is that they seem to be innocuous. Typically it starts off small. It begins, for most young men, with something very mild. A picture or a mild video (given the context) is typically the intro into this world of never-ending depravity. That’s the problem though! It’s just a small piece. It’s one drink to someone who struggles dearly with alcoholism. Any amount is too much. The problem is that it seems so small at the time.
The second reason, or step, is that it potentially starts getting worse, though unknown to the person. It’s a fascinating reality that we can rationalize nearly any sinful, or foolish activity on the basis of the belief that it’s not hurting anyone. Another interesting observation is that we may rage and rail against others for doing the same things, but rebel against anyone bringing our issues to our attention. “We have it under control”, we say. “We are not as bad”, we say. “What’s the big deal”, we say. What we don’t realize in the moment is that this defiance of the reality of us falling further and further is that we are ignorant that we are in fact falling further and further.
The third reason, is that it begins to shape your worldview. From the perspective of a pornography “addiction” (at this point) it begins to manage how you view women, and sexuality in general. The problem here is that it can change how you engage with all women including your spouse, coworkers, friends, or any one woman you meet. She no longer is in a position of worth and value for her own sake, but is seen through the lens of what you have been entertaining yourself with.
Now, I don’t want to open up the details of what may happen when something like this gets out, but I do want to draw on two sources to draw this to a close. The first resource is an eBook called “Porn Again Christian” by Mark Driscoll. It’s ironic that I use a book by a man who’s private sins manifested itself in his removal from his church, but save to say, the book is fantastic. In it you have a frank discussion with Ted Bundy on how it began with mild pornography, and then moved in heavier material, and finally to actualizing it and acting it out in real life.
Private sin begins excitingly and elevates to needing more and more until finally it hits a point where it is not enough to watch it but you now have to do it. The focus, as you read this, is not to just think of the big conclusion and exploitation that comes with a public exposure. No, I want you to consider all those little moments and concessions that led to a full forced breakdown. Every time we rationalize that something is ok, not that big of a deal, or innocent we are moving closer and closer to a point that we don’t even recognize us as being able to do. The greatest failures are almost never direct and massive failures with no antecedent causes. They are consistent concessions and consistent ignorance of the reality of a situation that lead us to a place we don’t recognize.
I want to end this on a verse from Hebrews chapter 2, verses 3 & 4. It reads:
“Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”